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Grand Island Relay For Life

Friday, June 10th - 4:00 p.m.
Veterans Park
A.C.S. Grand Island Relay Site

Relay For Life Page - 2015

Letters From Santa - November 2016

   One of the Grand Island Relay teams has a really cool fundraiser going on for Christmas...Send a letter from Santa to anybody!! We all know a child that would LOVE a letter from Santa!!! Consider filling out the attached form and making a donation for any amount to the American Cancer Society.

King of the Wing Contest

    Relay For Life is having their 2nd King of the Wing contest on Friday, November 11th at 6:30 p.m. at Say Cheese. There are teams from Buffalo, Brooklyn, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. For a $15 donation, you can eat pizza, wings and pop from 6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome, see flyer for details.

Relay for Life 2016 Photos by Renee Fraser Gugino - June 2016

Relay co-chairs Candy Mye, Becky Sommer-Stufkosky, Lynn Marston Dingey.

Honorary Survivors/Caregivers Grace Bishara Aswad, Lisa Dudley.

Honorary Survivors/Caregivers Sarah & Natalie Stanczyk.

Wendy Krause Napier and Lisa Dudley.

Mark Gorton and Casey Dahlstrom.

In memory of Jon Jon Cinelli.

Island of Hope: Honorary survivors/caregivers Sarah and Natalie Stanczyk - June 2016

Sarah & Natalie Stanczyk

By Alice E. Gerard
   Natalie Stanczyk, 47, and her daughter Sarah, 22, readily express optimism. Even cancer could not dampen their enthusiasm for living. After Sarah was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, stage 3B, she told her mother, "Don't worry. It's the best cancer to have." Sarah's cancer journey began in January 2014. "I was constantly getting sick.," she said, of her sophomore year at Duke University in Durham, N.C. An athlete, Sarah had joined Duke's rowing team as a sophomore. She said that, when she visited the team's athletic trainer for an unrelated condition. the trainer "noticed that I had a weird cough and that my neck was kind of swollen. She sent me for a chest X-ray," Sarah said. The next day, after more testing, including a biopsy, in the hospital, Sarah was given her diagnosis. She was taken immediately to the cancer center. Her parents, Natalie and Andy, and her brother Adam arrived the next day to support her.
    The biology major said, "I had chemo every two weeks for six months. I didn't take any time off from school," Sarah said. She graduated three weeks ago and is planning on moving to Santa Monica, Calif., to work in a hospital to get clinical hours with the goal of applying to physician assistant school. She is also looking forward to walking with her mother as honorary survivor/caregivers in Relay for Life on June 10 at Veterans Park.
    Natalie said that she flew down to North Carolina to be with Sarah for each of her chemo appointments. Sarah said that both her mother and her best friend, Halle, were at her side every time she had chemo. "My hair fell out and I was nauseous," The rowing team and Sarah's sorority, Kappa Alpha Theta, ran a fundraiser for her. "A couple of my friends shaved their heads with me. For a couple of months, I walked around bald, and people complimented it. It made me feel confident," Sarah said. After the spring 2014 semester ended, Sarah returned home and finished her chemotherapy treatments at Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
   Sarah was told that she was in remission on May 1, 2015. Three days later, Natalie, an attendance clerk at Huth Road Elementary School, began her cancer journey when she was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. When told that her mother had cancer, Sarah said, "Really? We just finished." Natalie said, "I had surgery, chemo, and radiation. I went for radiation at lunch time. I didn't take time off. I didn't want it to slow me down." It was Sarah's turn to be the caregiver. "I took her to her appointments. After her surgery, she sat in a chair," unable to move. "I brought her anything that she needed." Friends brought meals to Natalie for five days after each of her four chemo treatments. "We learned about how supportive our wonderful friends and family were," Natalie said. "We couldn't have done it without them. There are worse things to have," Sarah said. "You have to find a positive…", "In everything," Natalie said.
   Natalie finished radiation on Nov. 23, 2015. In January 2016, she had her last scan and was told that she was cancer-free. Sarah said that the cancer experience that she and her mother shared strengthened their relationship. "We were always very close. It (cancer) brings you to a new level. We have to take care of each other when we're feeling the worst." "As awful as it is that we had cancer," Natalie said, "we were fortunate in the kind of cancer that we got and that it was caught in time to be treated." "We're also friends as well as mother and daughter," said Natalie. Both mother and daughter are dedicated to Relay for Life. "I was invited to Relay as a survivor two years ago. I went to Relay straight from chemo. I didn't stay long. I was not feeling good." Natalie said, "I went with Sarah (two years ago) when she was bound and determined to go. We walked, and I held her arm. Last year, I did not feel good (at Relay). It was right after surgery. It was a little rough." This year, Natalie's friends started a team for Natalie, called Stan's Fans. Sarah and Natalie tell others who are diagnosed with cancer. "Keep a positive attitude and surround yourself with people who help you stay positive," said Sarah. "And," Sarah said, "You'll have a great story when you're done." "It's just a bump in the road," Natalie said.
    Natalie said that she remembered what a grim prognosis cancer had in the past, "When I was young and I heard that someone had cancer, it was a death sentence. With advances in medicine and research, it gave us a chance that we never had." Sarah said that having cancer gave her empathy for people who are going through serious health issues. "Spending all of that time in doctor's offices and in hospitals and in talking to doctors and nurses reaffirmed that I wanted to be a physician's assistant." If, two years after Sarah was declared to be in remission, she is still cancer free, she will be pronounced cured. In the past, Natalie said, " you never hear cured."

Relay For Life 2016 Schedule of Events

Schedule of Events

Honorary Survivors/Caregivers Lisa Dudley and Grace Aswad - May 2016

Grace Aswad and Lisa Dudley

By Alice E. Gerard
   There is a saying that "when one person has cancer, the whole family has cancer." Cancer can tear a family apart or bring it closer together. For Grace Aswad's family, cancer brought the family together. Lisa Dudley, one of Grace's five daughters, talked about the cancer journey that she and her mother both experienced. "We are blessed to have survived cancer. We rely on each other. Going through the cancer journey together has strengthened our bond." Grace Aswad and Lisa Dudley will walk together, hand in hand, at the June 10 Relay for Life at Veterans Park. They are one of two pairs of honorary survivors/caregivers. The other pair are Natalie and Sarah Stanczyk. Lisa said, "Relay for Life has held a special place in our hearts since we took our first mother/daughter survivor walk together in 2005."
   Grace Aswad is a three-time cancer survivor. She survived breast cancer, colon cancer, and liposarcoma of her leg. She was first diagnosed in 2002, with breast cancer. Lisa said that, when her mother was given her diagnosis, "she was more concerned about us than about herself. With each cancer that she was diagnosed with, I cried and wondered, who would take care of dad?" Grace's husband was the late Father George Aswad, who was the pastor of St. George Antiochian Orthodox Church in Sanborn. He passed away in 2014.
   Grace's cancer journey was, at times, difficult and painful. "My mom is very strong. She had radiation and a lot of surgery, but no chemotherapy. She went through a lot. People who met her would never know that she had cancer. In one of the surgeries, the doctors had to remove part of the muscle in my mom's leg. It was pretty intense, and it affected her walking," Lisa said. Although Lisa is the only one of Grace's five daughters to live in Western New York, every time Grace was diagnosed with cancer, her entire family surrounded her. "Grace was surrounded by her daughters, Lynn, Laura, Louise, Lisa, and Lana, her husband, and her son in law Jeff, who would stay in town to take care of her during the surgery and the initial recovery and treatment afterwards," Lisa said. After the family returned to their homes, Lisa was around to provide care for her parents. "I would visit my parents every day to make sure that they were OK. I drove them where they needed to go, bring them food, grocery shop, and, most importantly, be there to listen to them and talk and make them smile."
    Four years after Grace was diagnosed with breast cancer, Lisa was diagnosed with breast cancer. The roles were reversed. Grace became the supporter and the caregiver. "First, your mom is taking care of you as a child and then you are taking care of her with a cancer diagnosis, and then the tables turn again and she is taking care of you, also with cancer," Lisa said. "During my cancer treatments, she drove me to radiation and chemo treatments. I stayed at her house and was always surrounded by my mother's love. She was even with me when I cut my hair short in preparation for losing my hair. She was there to give me a hug when I cried." Lisa, who is married to Mike Dudley and who has two children, Eric and Kara, added, "My mom is my role model and my strength. She survived three cancers, and she did it with faith, strong family support, and a positive attitude. Cancer is devastating. But sharing this bond with your mom is such a great comfort. We each understand what it feels like to be told that you have cancer."
   Even though the family is now spread out, it is still a "very close family. Mom loves her 10 grandchildren and two great grandchildren. We wish we were closer together, but we're not," Lisa said. "She is my priority," Lisa said of her mother. "She’s got five girls looking after her so she can't get away with anything. I still visit my Mom every day. My Mom was always there for me as a child and adult and now I can be there for her." Lisa said that the experience of having cancer has taught both her and her mother to appreciate their lives. "You can see what is important in your life." Both Lisa and Grace are now in remission. Lisa said that she has been in remission for eleven years and that she makes sure to go for her regular checkups. "You have to take care of yourself," Lisa said. Another comfort for Grace and Lisa is their faith and their church. "My dad built the church. It was his vision. My mom was the choir director. We still sing in the choir together."
   Relay for Life has become a big part of Lisa's life. She has been the luminaria chairperson since 2008. She is also a member of Team Fresenius Kabi, where she is employed. Lisa said that she invites everyone to come to Relay for Life. "I hope to see you walking on the track to join us for a night of entertainment, food, and, most of all, emotion, knowing you are making a difference in the fight against cancer. I would love for you to come visit me at the luminaria tent and purchase a luminaria to honor of or in memory of a loved one. They will all be lit for the bagpipe ceremony at 9:50 p.m. It is the most emotional part of the evening for everyone, and it's my favorite part." Lisa added that she loves to run and that her mother sings like a songbird. "How fitting that my mom will be singing a song called 'You'll Never Walk Alone' before she and I join hands and walk the track together as Honorary Survivor/Caregivers, along with other survivors and caregivers."

Mallwitz's Island Lanes Golf Tournament - May 2016

The 3rd Annual Mallwitz's Island Lanes Golf Tournament for Relay For Life is on Monday, June 20th at River Oaks Golf Course. Call 773-0062 for details. See flyer.

King of the Wing Contest - May 2016

The WNY wing eating team.

YouTube Video by K & D Action Photo.
   A wing eating contest so big it needed all of New York State to pull it off. On Friday, April 29th at Say Cheese/Comic Book Cafe, Western New York went wing to wing against Brooklyn, Manhattan and Syracuse. Our wing eating team, made up of 3 guys and 3 girls as per the rules, ate 148 chicken wings and raised just over $3,300 for Relay For Life. Unfortunately, we didn't win. The King of the Wing - wing eating trophy went to Manhattan for eating 171 wings and the King of the Wing - fundraising trophy went to Brooklyn for raising roughly $4,000. The King of the Wing event across New York State raised just over $11,000 for Relay for Life to help finish the fight against Cancer!! Thank you to everybody that made a pledge or came out to show their hometown support and a huge thank you to our wing eating team and Say Cheese for helping make it all happen. Plans are already underway for next year's event and next year, we'll be bringing that trophy home!!

Daniel McBride Memorial Cup Fundraiser - April 2016

White team wins, click for larger view.

   The 4th Annual Daniel McBride Memorial Cup, held at Harbor Center on April 23rd, is in the books and it was a record breaking year. Over $4,300 was raised and eclipsed last year's mark of $4,000. The goal was to get bigger and better this year; and with all of everyone's help, they were able to accomplish that. Thank yous have to go out to the following: the MC for the event; Jon Fulcher. All of employees at ACI for their generous donations to the basket raffle. All of the folks on the Grand Island Relay committee for their donations and helping to spread the word. All of the hockey players that played hard and displayed their talents on the ice. It was a tight game with spectacular play coming from both teams. Team White was saved in the 3rd period with a critical rule change coming in at the last minute from league officials in Toronto. Congrats to both teams!!!

Paint the Town Purple Celebration - April 2016

2016 Student Ambassadors (from left): Alex Melisz, Haley Melisz, Danielle Duck, Gabby Robinson.

    Committee members of the 2016 Relay For Life will be Painting the Town Purple on Saturday, April 30th and will bring the Town Commons alive with purple in preparation for the annual Paint the Town Purple event, which takes place nationally on May 1st. Bows will be available to be purchased on April 30th at the First Niagara branch on Grand Island Boulevard from 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m as well as at deSignet Jewelers at 1869 Whitehaven Road. Large bows are $5.00 and will be available while supplies last. Smaller bows will also be available for a $1.00 donation.
    Be creative and spread the word. When someone asks you why you dressed up your front door purple, be sure to tell them May 1st is May Day for Relay. Committee members are encouraging all Grand Islanders to follow their lead as well as inspiring others to follow. It's easy and fun. Just hang up some purple decorations, wear your favorite purple tie or plant purple flowers in your front yard. Whatever you choose to do, show your purple spirit and make that spirit contagious. Whether you choose to decorate alone or with a group of friends, feel good knowing that you are showing your support for those who have fought or continue their battle with cancer. For more information, please call Becky Sommer-Stufkosky at 774-8978.

King of the Wing Competition - April 2016

See flyer.
   Grand Island Relay For Life is hosting a "King of the Wing", wing eating competition on Friday, April 29th at Say Cheese Pizza Company, 1771 Love Road. Western New York will take on Brooklyn, Manhattan, Nassau County, Suffolk County and Syracuse in a Wing Eating Challenge. The challenge is two-fold, to eat the most wings and to raise the most money to fight cancer. The fun begins at 6:30 p.m., wing competition at 7:30 p.m. Food buffet tickets are a $15 donation and includes pizza, wings & pop from 6:30 p.m. - 8:45 p.m. Tickets are available at Say Cheese or by calling Lynn at 773-5305. Tickets are not required to attend event. Musical duo "Jess and Ed" will be performing from 9:00 p.m. - midnight.

Relay Fundraiser - Chicken BBQ & Basket Raffle - April 2016

    The Relay For Life team Mallwitz Cancer Crew is hosting their annual Chicken BBQ on Saturday, May 7th from 3:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. at the Grand Island Rod & Gun Club, 1083 Whitehaven Road. There will be a basket raffle, 50/50, music, bake sale, hot dogs and music. Tickets are $9 pre-sale or $10 at the door. Tickets are available by calling Nancy/907-9037 or Mallwitz's/773-0062.

Relay Fundraiser - Mother's Day Craft & Vendor Show - April 2016

    A Relay for Life Fundraiser is planned for Saturday, April 30th from 10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. at Brighton Community Church, 1225 Brighton Rd, Tonawanda NY. There will be vendors, 50/50, basket raffle, bake sale and Lloyd Taco Truck.

Daniel McBride Memorial Cup - March 2016

   The Daniel McBride Memorial Cup 4th Annual ACI/Relay For Life Hockey Game will be held on Saturday, April 23rd from 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. at the Harborcenter Feature Rink. All proceeds benefit the Grand Island Relay for Life. Two teams of ACI and Relay For Life family and friends, featuring an amateur goaltender against a former NHL goaltender, go head to head in a battle for pride and a cure. Tickets for the game are $5.00 each and can be purchased at the door or by contacting Bob Duggan at 418-2672. There will be a 50/50 drawing and basket raffle the day of the event. Come out and support this great family friendly event!!!
If you are signed up as a player, a "scrimmage" practice is planned on Sunday, April 10th from 6-7:30 p.m. at the North Buffalo Ice Rink. The organizers would like to get as many of the players out there for a fun practice in advance of the big game. Even if you can't play in the big game and want to come play in the practice, consider the invite open! See flyer.

Relay For Life 2016 Kickoff - March 2016

Mother Grace Aswad and daughter Lisa Dudley.

Members of Jon Jon's Team and Team Mallwitz.

   The Grand Island Relay For Life 2016 Kickoff was well attended on Tuesday, March 8th at Veronica Connor Middle School Cafeteria. This year's theme is Country Western to "Give Cancer The Boot". Two mother-daughter duos were honored for being cancer survivors and caregivers at the event. Grace Aswad and Lisa Dudley have both survived cancer and taken care of each other during the journey. Duke University student Sarah Stanczyk and mom Natalie have both gone through a cancer diagnosis and treatment over the past two years. Sarah will graduate in May and has recently finished chemotherapy treatment. These brave ladies will be at the head of the Survivor Lap at the Relay For Life in June. The event will take place on Friday, June 10th at Veterans Park from 4:30 p.m. - midnight.

Wide Right Band & Basket Raffle - March 2016

    The Grand Island Moose Lodge is hosting the Wide Right band and a basket raffle on Saturday, March 12, 2016, from 6:00 p.m. - midnight at Mallwitz's Island Lanes. Everyone is welcome. See flyer for details. Proceed benefit the GI Relay For Life.

Relay For Life 2016 Kickoff - March 2016

    The Grand Island Relay For Life 2016 Kickoff is Tuesday, March 8th at Veronica Connor Middle School Cafeteria, 1100 Ransom Road at 7:00 p.m. This year's theme is "Wanted! Cure for Cancer". The event will take place on Friday, June 10th at Veterans Park. See flyer.